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Evolve is working to reform Proposition 13 so that commercial property pays its fair share, and funding is restored to schools and public services.


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Staff Blog

Filtering by Tag: organizing

Ride for a Reason

Jeffrey Pu

Last month, I participated in Ride for a Reason, a bike ride organized by Oakland parents to raise money for schools and advocate for more education funding. I had never biked 45 miles straight before, but I’m so glad I did.

Ride for a Reason was started by four parents one night after learning their middle school’s budget was being reduced 15%. Understanding what that meant - even fewer resources for students and teachers at the already under-served school - they channeled their frustration into something positive, biking to the Capitol to deliver petitions to change Prop. 13. Seven years later, that ride has become an annual event with over 200 participants raising over $100,000 for six schools.

This year, the ride got back to its roots by partnering with Evolve to call for Prop. 13 reform. While many of the riders wouldn’t consider themselves especially “political” (see 7 year old Oliver, pictured below), I was constantly reminded of how simple this issue is.


For all of these people, kids included, it is abundantly clear that schools need more money. Most of the older generations have seen the decline of California’s schools since Prop. 13, and everyone can agree that investing in our kids (our future) is more important than adding to the coffers of the wealthiest corporations on the planet. As organizer Paul Vetter says, “We could ride every week and still not raise enough money to properly fund schools in California. We need to change the politics. Reforming Prop. 13 is the way to go to make California a functional, 21st century economy.”

Impressive as this would be anywhere, I was particularly moved because this is my community. Growing up in Oakland, I went to the schools they’re fundraising for. I remember having dances cancelled because they were too expensive, having to share textbooks because there weren’t enough for the whole class, and going to strike school while my mom and other Oakland teachers held out for smaller classes and their first raise in a decade. As Edna Brewer Middle School Assistant Principle Kiernan Rok said at the post-ride rally, “We’re fighting over scraps when we really need to take this message to the Capitol. It’s an issue of priorities.” Hearing words like this and the cheers that followed, I was assured that these people get it. Now, I’m more confident than ever that with communities like mine across the state, we can take on these corporations and stand up for our kids.

Over 230 riders rallied for education funding on the Capitol steps

A Lean, Mean, Organizing Machine

Ian Fregosi

As a grassroots nonprofit that is 100% funded by our members, Evolve is all about efficiency.  That’s why, in an effort to optimize our campaign to reform Prop. 13, we have implemented a new workflow system at Evolve: the Lean Process.  The Lean Process is typically used by startup companies seeking to maximize their product output and was featured in the HBO TV series “Silicon Valley.”  In our case, as a nonprofit, the output we are working to maximize is raising awareness about Prop. 13 reform.

We know that the more people who find out that Chevron is saving $1 billion a year from Prop. 13 while California schools have sunk to 49th in the nation in education funding, the more people realize that it’s time for a common sense reform.  And the more people we can reach out to (whether they are voters, donors, or elected officials), the more likely we are to finally close the corporate loophole in Prop. 13.  This is where the Lean Process comes in: it allows us to experiment with different outreach tactics and quantify our results in order to increase efficiency and maximize our chances for success!

Since starting the Lean Process, we have been able to experiment with reaching out to groups like PTAs, Democratic clubs, and other natural allies to inform and excite people about Prop. 13 reform!  Lean allows us to analyze which groups are most responsive to which campaign messages and how enthusiastic they are about helping us move the campaign forward.  These experiments help us indicate where we should allocate our resources and focus our organizing efforts.  So far, we have had a very positive response from the individuals and organizations we have reached out to; these people understand that after 37 years, it’s finally time to reform Prop. 13 and have corporations pay their fair share of property taxes.

Our work schedule is broken into two-week increments called “sprints.”  At the end of each sprint, we meet as a group to discuss the results of our experiments and decide which new experiments to take on in the following sprint.  Having a sprint meeting every two weeks gives us the chance to measure and reflect on our successes and challenges, while also making sure everyone is on the same page moving forward.  It also ensures that we do not waste too much time and resources on tactics that don’t progress the campaign.  We are able to keep track of all these experiments with the “experiment board” (pictured below), which allows everyone to know who is responsible for which experiments.  The Lean Process provides an organized structure to keep our priorities and daily tasks in order, while also providing a clear and quantifiable model for success.


I have personally been very happy with what the Lean Process has done for me as an organizer at Evolve.  This process makes day–to-day planning more manageable and provides a more organized path to a long-term strategy.  I strongly suggest this process to other startups and nonprofit organizations that are looking to take their organization to the next level.